CINCINNATI – The New England Revolution will try to stretch their league-best unbeaten run into double digits on Sunday evening when they make their first-ever visit to the Queen City to battle expansion side FC Cincinnati.
Kickoff between the Revs (7-8-6, 27 pts.) and FCC (5-14-2, 17 pts.) is set for 6 p.m. from Nippert Stadium, with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live for authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports mobile app.
Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will have the English call on both NBCSB and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will take calls during 30 minutes of postgame coverage.
Current Form: Revs on verge of club-record unbeaten run; Cincy at bottom of East
New England stretched their unbeaten run to nine games (5-0-4) with a midweek romp over Vancouver, getting goals from four different players – including a debut golazo from DP Gustavo Bou – in a 4-0 victory.
Currently two points back of the final playoff spot in the East – and just six points behind third-place Atlanta – the Revs have matched the second-longest unbeaten run in club history (2014) and they’re rapidly approaching the club record of 11 games (7-0-4), set at the start of the 2005 season.
“I think we all knew that (we had a good team) from the beginning – it’s just putting in the pieces the right way,” said Diego Fagundez, who scored his first goal of the season and added an assist in 11 minutes off the bench vs. Vancouver. “Right now, I think that’s what we’re doing. Everybody is working for each other and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re winning games. That’s what matters at the end of the day.”
The four-goal outburst matched the Revolution’s best offensive showing of the season, but it was keeping their third clean sheet of the year that put the cherry on top of a quality win. With just eight goals conceded in their last nine games, the Revs have the league’s best defensive record (0.89 GAA) during that span.
“It just feels really good to shut out the other team and have that zero,” said center back Andrew Farrell. “It kind of builds up your confidence, and obviously the attack had the confidence building throughout this whole run we’ve been going on.
“We’ve been doing better defensively, and I think getting a shutout is something that can fuel us forward on the defensive side of the ball.”
FC Cincinnati, meanwhile, have been struggling defensively, conceding multiple goals in eight of their last nine games. That includes a 4-1 home loss to D.C. United on Thursday night, a result that came on the heels of back-to-back wins over the Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire.
Still, the Revs know the dangers that FCC can pose, particularly in front of a raucous crowd at Nippert Stadium and on what’s expected to be a toasty evening in Cincinnati, with temperatures in the low 90s.
“We understand it’s going to be a tough place to go and play,” said Juan Agudelo, who started in central midfield against Vancouver. “(They’re) a team that’s gotten some players back, and we expect a tough challenge in the heat.”
Past Meetings: Revs embark upon their first-ever trip to the Queen City
This will be the Revolution’s first-ever visit to Nippert Stadium to battle FC Cincinnati, which joined MLS as the league’s 24th team this season.
It will not, however, be the first-ever meeting between these two Eastern Conference sides, who squared off once before on March 24 at Gillette Stadium. FC Cincinnati got the better of the Revs on that occasion, with goals from Kekuta Manneh and the since-departed Kenny Saief making the difference.
Injury Report: L. Caicedo to serve one-game suspension; Revs assessing Bou’s fitness
Wilfried Zahibo will be eligible to return on Sunday in Cincinnati after serving his one-game suspension during the midweek win over the Whitecaps, but Luis Caicedo will not be available as he’ll serve a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
L. Caicedo has played all but 18 minutes of the Revs’ current unbeaten run, but sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena is confident the Revs will be able to account for his absence on Sunday.
“Everyone knows the responsibilities in each position,” Arena said. “We’ll have players ready to step up for him.”
Revolution fans are eagerly anticipating a second appearance for Bou after his electric debut, and the 29-year-old forward said after Wednesday’s win that he hoped to be ready for the weekend despite feeling “a little tired” after going 79 minutes in his first game since May.
But exactly what type of role he’ll be able to play in Cincinnati remains to be seen.
“Gustavo got a lot of minutes (on Wednesday night) and we have to see where he’s going to be – whether he can give us minutes on Sunday,” said Arena.
Final Thoughts: Farrell eager to play in front of friends and family close to home
“It’s going to be fun,” Farrell said of playing in front of friends and family in Cincinnati, just an hour or so from his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. “Whenever I get to play close to home, it’s always important for me to be able to see my family. It’s going to be another opportunity for that.”